Herpes simplex – Immunity Serology

Testing Indications

Serologic testing is indicated for determining evidence of past infection with HSV and is not indicated for the diagnosis of acute/recent HSV infection where virus detection from active lesions is the test of choice.  If infection or recent exposure is suspected it is preferable to submit samples for virus detection see Herpes Simplex – conjunctival, CSF or Herpes Simplex – Skin and Genital.

Following infection with HSV, it may take up to 3 to 6 months for HSV IgG antibodies to be detectable in serum/blood.

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit

Herpes Simplex 1 & 2 (Type Specific IgG)

Whole blood or serum

5.0 ml (blood) or 1.0 ml (serum)

Blood, clotted - vacutainer tubes (SST)

Submission and Collection Notes


HSV type specific IgG (HSV-1 and HSV-2) testing will be performed on all request for HSV immunity serology.


Haemolyzed, icteric, lipemic or microbially contaminated sera or plasma are not recommended for testing.

Storage and Transport

Label the specimen container with the patient’s full name, date of collection and one other unique identifier such as the patient’s date of birth or Health Card Number. Failure to provide this information may result in rejection or testing delay.

Special Instructions

Centrifuge if using SST. Place specimen in biohazard bag and seal. Specimens should be stored at 2-8°C following collection and shipped to PHOL on ice packs.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

HSV-1  & HSV-2 IgG serology is performed daily Monday to Friday. 

Turnaround time for test results is up to 5 days from receipt by PHO Laboratory

Test Methods

The DiaSorin LIAISON® HSV-1 and HSV-2 Type Specific IgG assay is a chemiluminescent immunoassay (CLIA) technology used for the qualitative determination of specific IgG antibodies to Herpes simplex virus Type 1 (HSV-1) and Type 2 (HSV-2) in human serum. The test is performed on the LIAISON® XL Analyzer.

The LIAISON® HSV-2 Type Specific IgG assay is indicated for testing sexually active adults or expectant mothers to aid in the presumptive diagnosis of HSV-2 infection.

The LIAISON® HSV-2 Type Specific IgG assay has not been established for use in the pediatrics population, for neonatal screening, or for testing immunocompromised or immunosuppressed patients. The assay is neither FDA cleared nor approved for testing blood or plasma donors.


The presence of HSV IgG antibody (in asymptomatic persons) provides an indicator of past infection with either HSV Type 1 or Type 2. 

IgG antibody levels may be reported as Non-Reactive (no detectable antibody), Indeterminate (the level of antibody detected is considered borderline reactive or equivocal) or Reactive (antibody is detectable within the positive range of the assay).

Please be aware that a non-reactive IgG level does not always indicate the absence of current infection. It may take up to 3 to 6 months for HSV IgG to develop after exposure especially if a patient has been treated with antiviral medication.

In symptomatic patients indeterminate levels of antibody may indicate rising antibody levels following acute infection. In asymptomatic patients indeterminate levels of antibody may be due to genuinely low levels of IgG antibody many years after the initial infection.


Results are reported to the ordering physician or health care provider as indicated on the requisition.

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Updated 7 Oct 2020